With skill mapping and social security assurance of migrants Yogi Adityanath goes one up in Maharashtra vs Uttar Pradesh slugfest
Independent India has occasionally seen a war of words between two neighbouring states over distribution of river water or a blame game over pollution.
The novel coronavirus crisis and the migrant workers' issue is seeing a fight of a different kind between the governments of two big distantly located states — Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh.
Soon after Maharashtra chief minister and Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray said that it was not time for politics, and that he and others should keep away from it, his close confidante and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut in an editorial in party mouthpiece Saamana compared Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath to Adolf Hitler. Accusing the Uttar Pradesh chief minister of committing atrocities on migrants, Raut said that Adityanath's actions were similar to those Hitler committed against Jews in Germany.
The ruling dispensation in Uttar Pradesh hit back sharply on the Thackeray government. The fight is only escalating.
In this rhetorical war, the facts have been lost somewhere in between. But one thing is clear: both the Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government and the Adityanath government are trying to convey a message to their domestic social constituencies that they care for them in times of crisis.
As it is, Thackeray is leading an uneasy coalition. There are reports of fresh signs of cracks in the ruling coalition. Besides, the number of COVID-19 positive cases are the highest in Maharashtra. In fact, Maharashtra accounts for one-third of the total number of cases in India.
Yogi, on the other hand, is going strong.
His latest order that states wanting to employ migrant workers from Uttar Pradesh will have to seek nod of the parent state, has created quite a stir.
There is a political angle to that also. The Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections are to take place in January-February 2022, which means that the election process will actually start in November-December next year and the state and political parties will get into the election mood much earlier than that.
Along with Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Manipur will also go to the polls around the same time. But no state election gets bigger than the UP election. Besides, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is an MP from the state, and the BJP rules the state with three-fourth majority. It is believed 2020 would be lost in fighting coronavirus. But the way an incumbent state government fights the novel coronavirus and the measures it comes out with — welfare and otherwise — for its people would decide the way the electoral wind could blow when polling is held a year later.
While issuing a directive that a migrant worker from Uttar Pradesh must be registered with the parent state before being hired by other state, the state government has also constituted an employment and social security commission for workers.
So far, over 24 lakh migrant workers have returned to Uttar Pradesh. It has been doing a skill mapping of all those who returned to the state, and as on Monday, it released a data skill set of around 15 lakh workers – how many of them were mason, plumber, carpenter, IT technician, driver, beauty parlor and saloon workers, paramedics and pharma sector workers, automobile mechanics, etc.
The idea is to create a database of its own whereby the state’s commission would work as a placement agency for various organs of the state and private sector players coming to the state.
The purpose is to help workers find employment closer to their home and if some other state wants workers from Uttar Pradesh, it will get the data as well as a ready supply of manpower.
Adityanath's office tweeted that Uttar Pradesh is the first state to be mapping the skills of its people, provide them employment and social security.
.@UPGovt द्वारा कामगारों/श्रमिकों का डाटा एकत्र करने का उद्देश्य अपने नागरिकों की दक्षता का पूरा विवरण रखना है।
यह पहली बार है कि जब कोई राज्य ऐसा विवरण तैयार कर रहा है,इसका लाभ उन सबके साथ रोजगार देने वाली संस्थाओं को भी मिलेगा व आवश्यकतानुसार कोई भी संस्थान इसका उपयोग कर सकेगा।
— Yogi Adityanath Office (@myogioffice) May 26, 2020
प्रदेश सरकार अपने हर कामगार व श्रमिक को सोशल सिक्योरिटी, सुरक्षा और बीमा की गारंटी देगी। कामगारों/श्रमिकों का शोषण एवं उत्पीड़न हर हाल में रुके, इसके लिए उत्तर प्रदेश सरकार पूरी तरह संकल्पित होकर कार्य कर रही है और आगे भी करती रहेगी। — Yogi Adityanath Office (@myogioffice) May 26, 2020
Lofty, idealistic plans, are something easier said than done. But then there are numerous instances when people have kept patience with the government whose intent an purpose seems trustworthy to them.
Skill mapping is official. But the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh is unofficially making an estimate of caste and community profile of those returning home. As per those estimates most of the people who have returned home belong to Dalit, Extremely Backward Caste (EBC) and Other Backward Caste groups. Increased support of these communities and caste groups propelled the BJP to power at the Centre in 2014 and 2019, and in Uttar Pradesh in 2017.
A senior functionary in the Uttar Pradesh government told Firstpost: “This is not about 25 lakh individual but 25 lakh families. Each family would roughly have 4-5 members and that number if translated, say into votes, could be huge. We are doing everything possible to provide relief to them. The COVID-19 crisis has further strengthened chief minister’s resolve to take Uttar Pradesh to another level. Since in a democracy, one has to face elections every five years and win popular confidence, an eye on the next election would obviously be there. There is nothing wrong as long as the government of the day is doing everything possible within its command to safeguard interests of its people.”